Eggs are a breakfast staple in all countries, from America and Canada to Israel and Malaysia. Packed with nutrition and essential vitamins, eggs are some of the most nutritious foods we have. In addition, there are many ways to enjoy them, whether alone or part of a recipe.
You may also have noticed different types of eggs on your weekly shopping trips. Some are brown and white or large and small.
But what’s the real difference between these eggs? Does it matter? Check out our guide as we break down the different eggs.
If you’re an average home cook, you may never have considered the quality of your eggs. But did you know that before they get released to the market, eggs are first sorted according to their grade? These classifications range from Grade AA, Grade A, and Grade B.
The grade of an egg will depend on its interior and exterior quality at the time of packaging. Here’s what those classifications mean.
US Grade AA
US Grade AA eggs are the most perfect eggs you can get. The shells are clean and clear of cracks. The egg whites are firm and thick, and you get a good round yolk.
If the presentation is important to you when preparing a meal, it’s best to use Grade AA eggs.
US Grade A
US Grade A eggs are present in most stores. Like Grade AA eggs, these eggs have good exterior quality. The egg whites may not be as firm as Grade AA eggs, but you can enjoy them just fine.
US Grade B
Grade B eggs are often the lowest quality of eggs, but you can still eat them. The egg whites run thinner, and the yolks are flatter than that of Grade AA and A eggs.
Grade B eggs are not usually found in stores because they go into making other egg products.
After determining an egg’s quality, they are then sorted according to size. These sizes range from peewee to jumbo. The size of an egg often depends on the age and weight of the hen, but certain breeds also lay bigger eggs.
The living conditions and diet can also affect egg size. So does size matter when shopping for eggs? Not always, but it can help if you’re trying out a precise recipe that calls for a specific size of egg.
Jumbo eggs are the biggest size of eggs and weigh over 30 ounces. These eggs are rare and at least 20% bigger than large eggs. Two jumbo eggs equal three large, extra-large, or medium eggs.
Extra-large eggs weigh 27 ounces. Four extra large eggs equal three jumbos, four large, and five medium eggs.
Weighing 24 ounces, large eggs are the most common size seen in grocery stores. This is often the size used when recipes don’t specify a size for eggs.
Medium eggs, weighing 21 ounces, are the smallest egg size available in grocery stores. These eggs are perfect for hard-boiling thanks to their thicker shells.
Small eggs come from young mother hens and weigh 18 ounces. These eggs are also hard to find in most grocery stores.
Peewee eggs, also known as pullet eggs, are the smallest egg size. Like small eggs, these eggs may be hard to find in grocery stores.
The color of an egg does not affect its composition or quality. However, it can be fun to discover all the egg colors that chickens can lay. Aside from the customary white and brown eggs, chicken can also lay blue eggs, speckled eggs, and even an olive egger.
Types of Eggs
So, what affects the quality of an egg, if not the color? The quality of an egg depends on the way the hen was raised.
Standard White and Brown Eggs
Standard eggs come from white hens that grew up in conventional housing systems. The hens live in small social groups in a small house with easy access to water and food. When they lay eggs, the farmers collect them by conveyor or hand.
The only difference between white and brown eggs is the color of the hen. White eggs come from white hens, and brown eggs come from brown hens.
These eggs come from hens that grew up in a furnished housing system. This system gives hens more space to roam around and allows them to engage in more instinctual behaviors. Furnished systems often include scratch pads, dust baths, nesting boxes, and perches.
These eggs come from hens who can roam in an enclosed barn. Like furnished eggs, the barn offers various enrichments like perches and nesting boxes.
Free-range eggs are similar to free-run eggs. In addition to the barn, the hens can also enjoy outdoor runs.
Organic and Vegetarian Eggs
A chicken’s diet can also impact the kind of egg it produces. When fed only certified organic, the hens produce organic eggs. Organic egg cartons will often carry a certified organic symbol.
Hens that were only fed with plant-based ingredients produce vegetarian eggs.
Grade B eggs that go through a special egg-breaking machine before pasteurization produce processed eggs. This includes dried, frozen, and liquid egg products. These types of eggs often have added coloring, flavoring, and preservatives.
Ultimate Guide to the Different Types of Eggs
Now you know the different types of eggs. Eggs are the ultimate kitchen staple, so it doesn’t hurt to learn more about what you put in your stomach. While the color of an egg cannot define its quality, it does depend on the living environment of the hen.
There are many different ways to cook eggs, but have you tried all of them? Check out our other blog posts to learn some great egg recipes. We also cover some great healthy recipes for you to try out.